Seven Spots to Watch the Kentucky Derby in Boston

Sip mint juleps, nosh barbecue, and model sky-high hats at these awesome parties at restaurants and bars.

Sip on juleps made with Bantam’s Hibiscus Mint cider. / Photo provided

The race is on to find a weekend party for the Kentucky Derby (Saturday, May 4), when even we true-blue Yankees like to break out our biggest hats for an excuse to day-drink. Choose your horse, then your hang–we have a few mint julep-soaked suggestions below.

Bantam Cider

The Somerville apple-presser is hosting a Derby watch party on Saturday from 3-10 p.m,. mixing up juleps made with its own Hibiscus Mint cider; the first 100 guests to get one receive a special souvenir glass, and every julep order earns you an entry in a Derby-themed prize drawing. Something special will also be doled out to dapper winners of Best Hat and Best Bowtie contests, and there’ll be an appearance from the team behind Manoa Poke Shop. Manoa shuttered its brick-and-mortar restaurant earlier this year–but has started to stage pop-up appearances at breweries and farmer’s markets for those missing its super-fresh raw fish salads.

40 Merriam St., Somerville, 617-299-8600,

City Tap House

Starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, this Fort Point craft beer-bar will turn its patio into a “rosé garden” with Angry Orchard Rosé Cider on draft, plus special cocktails spiked with the stuff: including the Angry Roséita, amped with mezcal, agave nectar, and pineapple and lime juices. You can also expect Derby-inspired bites like pimento cheese-topped crostini and cucumber-cream cheese tea sandwiches; keep the crumbs off your mouth, because a rose-decorated photo booth will capture the fun. Bonus: live music and a DJ spinning throughout the day.

10 Boston Wharf Rd., Boston, 617-904-2748,

Mint Julep at Drink / Courtesy photo by Susie Cushner


Barbara Lynch’s Fort Point cocktail den will host its 10th-annual Kentucky Derby Party from 3-7 p.m. Your $75 ticket scores you three libations and a themed food menu, plus a commemorative julep cup for the first 75 guests to sign up. Don your biggest hat, because there’ll be a contest (you can pick one up at Drink’s pre-party “hat shop”)–and of course, the bar will broadcast the race, so you won’t miss a second of the fast, fleeting action.

348 Congress St., Boston, 617-695-1806,

Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar

For Derby-day celebrations in Davis Square, head to this American-comfort-food favorite housed inside a historic, vintage dining car. The patio will be open, mint and specialty juleps will flow, a photo booth will provide your new favorite profile photo, and prizes will be awarded for Best Hat, Best Dressed, and Best Dressed Couple (so look cute, lovebirds). You’ll also find snacks like pork belly hush puppies and Kentucky hot brown sliders for noshing while you watch the race. Tickets are $15 here.

381 Summer St., Somerville, 617-629-9500,


The Financial District location of the upscale-Italian restaurant brand will host what is probably Boston’s most elaborate Kentucky Derby bash: Down & Derby, a fundraiser for the Love Life Now Foundation, which supports shelters and other organizations working to stop domestic violence. The party will include red-carpet photo opportunities with an actual horse and “live jockey statue”; multiple performers of soul, jazz and blues music; derby games; raffle prizes; and plenty of hors d’oeuvres alongside an oyster bar. Kelly O’Grady, the reigning Miss Massachusetts, will make an appearance, and DJ Liz Ladoux will close out the party with a thumping set. The fun starts at 4 p.m. and tickets are here.

10 High St., Boston, 617-426-1234,

Chef Andy Husbands hits the sauce at his restaurant, Smoke Shop, in Kendall Square. / Photograph by Pat Piasecki for ‘A Yankee’s Guide to New England Barbecue

The Smoke Shop

It may be a challenge to keep the barbecue sauce off your seersucker, but we still suggest swinging by the original, Kendall Square location of chef Andy Husbands’ rib-slinging restaurants for a Kentucky Derby watch party from 4-7 p.m. The pit master will pull together sliders stacked with burnt ends, pulled pork, and pulled chicken, plus a derby pie for dessert. And you’ll also find three different juleps—classic mint, raspberry-ginger, and peach—alongside the restaurant’s already-extensive collection of bourbons. It’s $5 to get inside, and prizes will be awarded for Best Bonnet and Best Gussied-Up Couple categories.

1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge, 617-577-7427,

Southern Proper

Chef Jason Cheek, a North Carolina native, will crank the Southern vibes up to 11 for Saturday’s Derby party from 2-6 p.m. Expect frozen mint juleps, mint julep-milk punch, complimentary snacks and lawn games like corn hole. When you’re not watching the race, try your hand at a make-your-own hat contest; the winner earns swag and a gift card. Or if you’d rather show up in pro-made millinery, you may score contest prizes like Red Sox tickets or a “Date Night” at the restaurant.

600 Harrison Ave., Boston, 857-233-2421,